Shops Worth the Drive

Bookstores at the beach, German groceries next to the world’s largest oyster, and kitchen finds in Eastern Oregon

By Margaret Seiler December 21, 2021 Published in the Winter 2021/2022 issue of Portland Monthly

Baker City’s Bella kitchen store in September 2020, the week after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

Portland might have all the big-city goods and services a person could need, but who wants to shop at the same places all the time? Turn your next road trip into a scenic shopping spree at some of these gems. 

Kitchen Essentials: Bella in La Grande and Baker City

Take Portland’s Kitchen Kaboodle, add robes, greeting cards, toys, beer, wine, snacks, grass-fed beef, and small-batch tonic water to its inventory, paint its windows with odes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, plop it in Eastern Oregon, and you have Bella, “The Best Kitchen Store Ever” according to its sassy, 1950s-style billboards along Interstate 84. When Beverly Calder opened her Baker City shop in 1997, she recalls, the three biggest retailers in Baker County were all catalog companies. Amazon may have supplanted LL Bean, but neither of those is much help when you need a last-minute birthday gift or wedding-registry item (or need directions to the wedding itself—Calder always asks couples who register at Bella for a copy of the wedding invitation so she can help the inevitable late guest who has lost theirs). She opened a second location in 2010 in La Grande, so travelers can stop in one, realize they forgot something, and let those billboards lure than off the highway again 40 miles later. 2023 Main St, Baker City & 1216 Adams Ave, La Grande,


Beach Reads: Cloud & Leaf in Manzanita

At around 650 square feet, Manzanita’s Cloud & Leaf is less than 1 percent the size of Powell’s. But it’s just as easy to lose yourself in its carefully curated shelves and come away with way more titles than you meant to buy. Novelist Deborah Reed, who first came to Manzanita for a writers’ event a decade ago and soon moved there (and set her two most recent books there), bought the shop in 2019 and has since doubled its poetry real estate and added a section for literature in translation as well as a section she calls “Beautiful Delicate Favorites” that’s situated right by a window seat for shoppers who want to settle in. Reed calls the shop “a place of solace—it puts off the energy of a place of possibility and comfort.” 148 Laneda Ave, Manzanita,

Even More Beach Reads: Gold Beach Books

A six-hour drive south from Manzanita on US 101, Gold Beach Books offers a sprawling space and an in-house coffee shop—with 75,000 new and used tomes, it’s actually the state’s second-largest used bookstore, after Powell’s. But unlike at the City of Books, Gold Beach Books’ late founder, Ted Watkins, embraced a looser, “thrill of the hunt” organizational philosophy. Watkins’s four sisters in Portland helmed the shop remotely since his 2016 death before finding a buyer last spring, but they kept their brother’s community spirit alive with a pandemic-era free book program for people who were housebound, which started small and took off after an Oregonian story. “We all chipped in, volunteering our time to select, package, and mail the books,” says store manager Carolyn Trigueiro. “We kept our local post office (and a few in Portland) busy for several weeks.” The shop got a lot of thank-you notes and heartwarming stories about what the books meant to people. The latest project? A lot of bookshelves are moving to the second floor to make room for an expanded art gallery with bronze and copper pieces, paintings, and jewelry from West Coast artists. 29707 Ellensburg Ave, Gold Beach, 


A Deutsch Destination: Jayden’s German Store in South Bend

When Joelle Springer opened her shop in tiny South Bend, Washington, she was selling haircuts, not European coffee and Nürnberger sausages. But what started as a shelf of holiday chocolates next to her barber’s chair is now Jayden’s German Store (named for her son, also the inspiration for Jayden’s Favorite Grilled Cheese on the menu), keeping this Willapa River town on US 101 well stocked with paprika chips, pumpernickel breads, knödel mixes, and, especially come Christmas and Easter, baskets full of candy and chocolates from the other side of the Atlantic. She’s since added a freezer case and deli counter, the video tours of which might make you hop in your car and drive the two and a half hours. Could you find most of this stuff in Portland? Sure. But that local errand won’t take you through misty valleys and past cranberry bogs and a concrete-reinforced statue labeled World’s Largest Oyster. 608 Robert Bush Dr E, South Bend, Washington,